The thing about a government shutdown is that it’s like a bad breakup — you don’t realize how much your ex-girlfriend was really doing for you until she’s gone.
As we slog through the second longest government shutdown in history (so far), it’s becoming increasingly clear that even partially shutting down the government has ripple effects all the way to the candy industry.
There’s the small stories. Like the the USA Today article about people like Mike Yohannes who has “run a food stand in downtown Washington, D.C., for the past 20 years selling hot dogs, candy bars and an assortment of other edible items.”
He says the latest government shutdown, “could be the death knell for his business.”
“With foot traffic markedly down at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 11th Street where he operates, Yohannes says sales have fallen about 60 percent during the closure, which has affected nearby federal offices, museums and other tourist spots,” USA Today reports.
“Business is very, very bad,” says Yohannes, adding that he pays about $525 in license and other fees every three months, besides food costs. “If it continues like this another two, three months, I’m looking at another job.”
And then there’s the bigger picture stuff. Like the fact that the shutdown means that E-verify is no longer working.
“If U.S. employers want to check whether their prospective hires are eligible to work, they can't,” NPR reports. “The E-Verify database is ‘currently unavailable due to a lapse in government appropriations,’ according to a note on the government-run website.”
That’s because some Department of Homeland Security operations are impacted by the shutdown, including this program — which is used across the confectionery industry, from manufacturers to retailers.
There was also some concern that SNAP benefits wouldn’t be paid out if the shutdown goes into February, but the government has since announced that won’t be the case. Which is some good news, seeing as how that money is directly spent in the stores that sell candy.
From a more personal standpoint, I know thousands of industry professionals (myself included) are planning to fly to Germany soon for ISM and ProSweets, and the shutdown has impacted TSA. That will likely mean long lines at airport security for all of us.
“Transportation Security Agency officers forced to work without knowing when their next paycheck is coming are no longer just calling in sick. Now, 18 days into the partial government shutdown, some are resigning, according to Hydrick Thomas, who heads the TSA Council on the American Federation of Government Employees,” USA Today reports.
Of course, the real tragedy is the lost wages for government employees. And while they will likely get back pay, the government contractors impacted by the shutdown probably won’t. Any time you take money out of the economy it’s going to impact confectionery sales.
Hopefully the shutdown will end soon, because if it goes on much longer, it’s likely that just like in a bad breakup, we’ll all continue to realize how much of our lives are impacted by the government.